A large number of theatre artists and writers from India and Pakistan paid rich tributes to actor Om Puri here.
They recalled his deep association with Toronto as some of Om Puri’s English movies such as “Such a Long Journey” and “West is West” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Rajinder Saini, who founded the Punjabi International Film Academy Awards in 2012 and who was a personal friend of the actor, recalled how Om Puri offered him support for the start of the festival in Toronto.
“Om Puri was a true friend indeed as he went out of his way to make the first Punjabi film festival a success. He always stayed with our family whenever he was in Toronto,” said Saini.
He recalled his last long chat with Om Puri on the phone after the actor’s TV remarks on Indian soldiers created a major controversy.
“In a friendly (way), I scolded him for creating unnecessary controversies. He was gracious enough to admit his mistake and he went to give Rs 10 lakh to the widow of the soldier,” recalled Saini.
Saini also criticised the Pakistani media for spreading rumours about the cause of the death of the actor.
Pakistani writer Tahir Gora paid his tributes to Om Puri by describing as an artist who transcended boundaries.
Some of the speakers, who knew Om Puri since his days as a struggling theatre artist in Patiala, said he was the first-ever Indian actor to make it to Hollywood from theatre.
“He had a booming voice and his earthy Punjabi touched us,” said one of the speakers.
Om Puri’s first wife Seema Kapoor also sent a video message to the gathering.